A Pakistani judicial commission found the nation’s former ambassador to the U.S. sent Pentagon chiefs a secret memo seeking help to avert a possible coup in May last year amid turmoil after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The Supreme Court ordered the commission on Dec. 30 to probe allegations by Pakistani-American Mansoor Ijaz that President Asif Ali Zardari’s then envoy to Washington, Husain Haqqani, was behind the note. Haqqani was disloyal to the Pakistani state while serving as ambassador, the Geo television channel reported, citing the commission’s findings which were presented to a nine-member top court bench today.
The findings are “political and one-sided,” Haqqani said in an e-mailed statement from Washington today. “The entire proceeding reflected the political machination of ideological elements, including the judiciary, and had little to do with fact finding.” The Supreme Court will begin hearing the case later this month.
The dispute over the memo triggered the sharpest confrontation between the civilian and military leadership in Pakistan since army rule ended in 2008. Zardari opposed the judicial inquiry, while military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani supported it. The unilateral U.S. strike that killed bin Laden in a garrison town north of Islamabad on May 2, 2011 humiliated the Pakistani army, which for years had denied the presence of senior al-Qaeda leaders on its soil.
Internal tensions eased after Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani retracted remarks in which he accused generals of violating the constitution by submitting their statements on Ijaz’s claims directly to the Supreme Court rather than through his government.
Haqqani, who was forced to resign over the memo, and the government deny involvement in the drafting or delivery of the document. Haqqani served as an adviser to Zardari and in the 1990s was a spokesman for Zardari’s late wife, Benazir Bhutto, during her tenure as prime minister.
To contact the reporters on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at firstname.lastname@example.org;
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at email@example.com